Meet the Canadian composer who's created a basketball symphony for the TSO
Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissions Juilliard grad to compose ‘Buzzer Beater’
Jared Miller doesn't remember a time when he didn't love music.
"I can't even use words to convey how much I love music and all types of music," Miller told CBC's Our Toronto. "So to have the privilege to create it and to play it is really something special in my mind."
Fresh off a PhD from the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, he was commissioned to create a piece for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. There were two specific requirements: it had to be two minutes or less, and it had to have a Canadian inspiration to celebrate the country's 150th birthday.
Inspiration struck when Miller stepped outside his New York City apartment.
"As I was walking by, I had this flashback to fourth grade gym class," Miller said. "It was of my gym teacher telling us that Canadian James Naismith invented basketball."
'Hopefully my piece will make them chuckle'
Miller wrote Buzzer Beater as he would any musical score, but with a few twists in the performance.
"One thing that I'm actually pretty happy with is the beginning of the piece, which begins with a buzzer sound which is the brass players playing really loudly a single note, and then an air horn playing on top of that," he said.
"It combines, in my mind, perfectly to create a buzzer or a sports buzzer sound you'd hear at the beginning and end of a game."
Miller also throws a real basketball into the mix.
"The TSO's principal percussionist is actually doing an amazing job at timing the basketball bounces perfectly so they happen when they're supposed to," he said.
While he admits using basketballs in classical music might be unusual, Miller says it's all part of doing the unexpected.
"Ultimately, one thing I'm really passionate about exploring and creating is sound. What are combinations of sounds I can create that are interesting and new and progress in an interesting way?"
It's that passion and creativity he brings to his new job teaching students at the Special Music School in New York City — a public high school for musically gifted children.
Meanwhile, he's also busy composing a piece for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.